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California’s interpretation of the best interests of the child

Child custody cases can be complex. Generally, both parents will have the best interests of the child in mind, and so too will the family court. The difficulty is that not all parties may be on the same page regarding this issue. 

Due to the potential vulnerability of children, legislators in California have codified some laws regarding the best interests of the child. An explanation of this issue can be found in California Family Code sections, 3011, 3020 and 3021. 

The child’s safety 

The safety of the child is the top priority for the family court. If there are credible safety concerns, then the court will act accordingly. For example, if there is an established history of domestic violence from one parent, that parent custody rights may be limited. Often, in these circumstances, the court will order supervised visitation. This will stay in place until it has been established that there is no longer a safety threat to the child.

The child’s current ties 

Stability is key in determining the best interests of the child. Generally, the family court will want the child to go through as little turmoil as possible. The court will consider which parent has been the primary caregiver for the longest period. They will also consider living arrangements and schooling. For instance, would moving to another location with a parent uproot the child’s education and friendships? 

Special considerations 

If the child has any special health requirements, then this will also be a factor. For instance, does their current home have mobility aids that make their life much easier? Is their current address in a catchment area for a school that can meet all of their special requirements? 

These are just some of the key factors considered when determining the best interests of the child in California. To find out more, it will be beneficial to seek legal guidance.